Watchdog

Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Detroit was Hockeytown AND Rose Bowl Town Jan. 1

Fireworks go off as the Toronto Maple Leafs

(Credit: MCT)

Many Americans spent big chunks of their New Year's Eve and New Year's Day watching college football and hockey, beginning with Tuesday night's Chick-Fil-A Bowl. In case you missed it because you have a social life, Johnny Manziel led a wild rally by Texas A&M over Mrs. WatchDog's Dukies and helped ESPN draw 5.3 percent of homes in major markets - its best ever for a non-BCS bowl game.

Wednesday...

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NHL Winter Classic at Big House Wednesday

Retired Toronto Maple Leafs players, from left, Wendell

(Credit: AP)

Normally I would have participated in NBC's pre-Winter Classic conference call Monday, but I was busy at Jets camp, plus this year the Jan. 1 game isn't quite as exciting for those of us around here, what with not one but two outdoor games coming up at Yankee Stadium in late January.

Still, the Big House beckons, with cold temperatures and a record crowd expected. So, still pretty cool.

Here...

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Football Nation tuned in again in '13

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning throws a pass

(Credit: Getty)

There are those who fear for the future of football, given increasing concerns about its dangers. But in the present the sport never has been stronger.

Nielsen released its year-end roundup of television viewing and it showed nine of the top 10 programs were NFL related. The lone exception was the Academy Awards, at No. 7 with 40.4 million viewers.

No. 1 was Super Bowl XLVII at 108.7...

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NBCSN will show figure skating live

Katarina Witt Won: One Olympic gold medal in

(Credit: USA Network)

Speaking of the 1980 U.S.-Soviet game, which ABC showed hours after the fact, it remains the greatest crime in the history of tape-delaying sports. But now, at last, that sort of thing is becoming a thing of the past.

NBC announced this past week something that until recently would have been unfathomable:

It will show a ratings jewel of its Olympic coverage, figure skating, live from...

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NFL uses flex to maintain flexbility

Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) makes

(Credit: AP)

The NFL’s decision to flex the Dec. 22 Ravens-Patriots game out of prime time for Eagles-Bears initially caused much head-scratching, until Sports Business Journal reported it was driven by an arcane TV contract provision.

It turns out the gap between games taken from CBS and Fox for prime time windows in any given season may not exceed three. If Ravens-Patriots had remained at night, CBS’s...

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NBC Sports Network tries to blaze a trail

(Credit: AP)

Sports TV executives have started hiding behind potted plants when they see me coming, knowing I will annoy them with questions about the glut of content and microscopic ratings for cable networks that has resulted.

 Alas, Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports Network, did not react quickly enough at a recent NHL lunch, so I asked him about the state of the channel as it...

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'Turnabout' is unfair play

Singer Rick Springfield jams out.

(Credit: Handout)

After eight years it is getting increasingly difficult to uncover sports-related pop culture curios to keep the Sunday editor amused and entertained.

But here’s a doozy: “Turnabout,” an NBC sitcom that debuted 25 years ago in January and lasted a mere seven episodes. I have no recollection of it, as I was busy getting hazed by future fraternity brothers at the time.

Written by the pre-“Hill...

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'Heidi Game' turns 45

JOE NAMATH 1965-1976 136 games (126 starts), 60-61-4

(Credit: AP)

Forty-five years ago Sunday I was worried some silly football game would delay the beginning of “Heidi,’’ which I and many of my fellow 8-year-olds were very much looking forward to watching.

Happily, NBC executives left the Jets-Raiders game right at 7 p.m., and all was well! Kind of.

As it turned out, there were many football fans less than enthusiastic about the move, especially after...

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CBS, NBC revisit JFK assassination through football eyes

1963: ROGER STAUBACH Quarterback, Navy Roger Staubach's 1,356-point

(Credit: AP )

No aspect of the assassination of John F. Kennedy will go un-reexamined over the next week, including its impact on the sports world. Two documentaries worth your time on that front:

First, Thursday night CBS Sports Network offers “Marching On: 1963 Army-Navy Remembered,’’ about that year’s epic, controversial showdown, which not only impacted the national mood but also the national championship...

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Pat Summerall documentary is a kick

Pat Summerall, the Giants kicker, poses with his

(Credit: AP)

Pat Summerall touched many lives in his 82 years, which was evident in the diverse, A-list roster of guests at a recent screening in advance of NFL Network’s latest “A Football Life,’’ which premieres at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Among them were CBS president (and former Newsday paper boy) Leslie Moonves and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. But even those among us who did not know Summerall personally...

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